A ‘red fort’ that shows chances of colour change

Recent polls indicate some threat to Vamanapuram’s claim of being a Left bastion

A ‘red fort’ for nearly four-and-a-half decades, Vamanapuram presents a daunting task for the United Democratic Front (UDF) as it contemplates wresting control of the constituency.

While the Left Democratic Front (LDF) will look to retain its bastion, the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) hopes to upset the apple cart by riding on an upsurge in its vote share in the predominantly agrarian region.

Barring two-time MLA M. Kunjukrishna Pillai, who had won the seat for Congress in 1965 when the segment first went to the polling booths and in 1970, no other UDF candidate has been able to break through the Left citadel.

While N. Vasudevan Pillai of CPI(M) emerged victorious in 1967 and 1977, veteran party leader Koliakode N. Krishnan Nair kept the red flag soaring high through four consecutive terms from 1980 to 1996. While Pirappancode Murali represented the constituency from 1996 and 2001, J. Arundhathi took over for a single term in 2006. Mr. Nair returned for yet another stint in 2011 when he defeated C. Mohanachandran of the Congress by 2,236 votes.

Vamanapuram’s incumbent legislator D.K. Murali, former Venjaramoodu area secretary of the CPI(M), defeated Congress’s T. Sarathchandra Prasad by a handsome margin of 9,596 in 2016 Assembly polls.

Comprising the Nellanad, Pullampara, Vamanapuram, Anad, Kallara, Nanniyode, Panavoor, Pangode and Peringamala grama panchayats in Nedumangad taluk, the constituency is known for its vibrant agrarian economy. Located on the banks of the Vamanapuram river, the longest in the district, the region is also known for its scenic hill stations that leaned on tourist inflows for its development.

The LDF has maintained a steady vote-share by winning 46.51% and 46.56% of the total votes polled in 2011 and 2016 respectively. However, this fell steeply to 34.97% when A. Sampath lost to Adoor Prakash from the Attingal Parliament segment during the 2019 general elections. Attributing the reversal to a ‘wave’ that was visible across the State, the Left camp remained confident that its vote base remained intact.

The CPI(M)-led front drew its confidence from its commanding show at the recent local body elections. While it won 14 out of 15 divisions in Vamanapuram block panchayat, the LDF won all of the three divisions, which come under the constituency, in Nedumangad block panchayat. Three out of four divisions that formed part of the Vamanapuram segment in the district panchayat were also won by the LDF.

The NDA’s vote share doubled from 4.24% in 2011 to 9.87% when R.V. Nikhil of Bharat Dharma Jana Sena (BDJS) represented the coalition in 2016. Senior BJP leader Sobha Surendran won 20.66% of the votes from areas coming under the Vamanapuram constituency during the General polls in 2019.

The constituency has an electorate of 1,97,127 voters including 92,265 males, 1,04,859 females, and three transgenders, according to the voters’ list published by the Election Commission of January 20.

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